03-23-2005, 02:20 PM
...on that "other forum board".....man, I hate bad news.....bonefishing is the only thing keeping me going ... :confused: :mad: :confused:
03-23-2005, 02:20 PM
...on that "other forum board".....man, I hate bad news.....bonefishing is the only thing keeping me going ... :confused: :mad: :confused:
03-23-2005, 02:38 PM
How much do you figure the Bahamian Government is going to spend on "Flats Cops"? What?...mabey one part-timer per Island. My guess is that the only way the Government could create "effective" enforcement would be to deputize fishing guides and let them take care of their "own interests"...after all...that's what this is all about. Geeze!...now I have to watch over my shoulder all the time.
03-23-2005, 03:27 PM
That they enforce it to the same degree as camping on the beach.......................................... :chuckle:
03-23-2005, 03:33 PM
:hihi: I'm not worried.
03-23-2005, 04:22 PM
Where was this post I would have liked to read about it.
03-23-2005, 04:27 PM
This is the info that started it all................
03-23-2005, 07:22 PM
What are you talking about. Vague references to trouble are not helpful. Unless the Bahamas Fisheries Dept has had a change of heart in the last 2 months, there is nothing to prevent anyone from walking a flat, with or without a guide, anywhere in the Bahamas. If you have info, be specific.
03-23-2005, 07:33 PM
Greetings fellow bonefish enthusiasts,
That sure is interesting news, although the true implications of this are actually more complicated than mere inforcement. Nothing in the islands is that cut and dried. You have to remember the islander mentality, where things such as rules are subjective. I've lived in the Caribbean my whole life and would bet serious money that the effect of such action would be to close whatever flats locals wanted closed, whenever they wanted them closed. Period.
Unless the government is very clear on which areas specifically are closed to visitors, any local police could tell you to leave whatever flat he wants, just because someone who lives down the road doesn't like you fishing in "his" water without paying him. I really can't see the Bahamian government (a classic Caribbean beurocracy) actually spending money on posting the no fishing zones, so it would again come down to opinion where such areas begin and end, exactly. Just imagine the confusion and frustration this could lead to when you look up from stalking a couple tailers to see a uniformed officer yelling at you to get off the flat... all when you thought you were in the clear.
The problem is that no one is taking the side of the little guy in this. The truth isn't that guides and lodges are losing business, quite the opposite. There are new lodges opening all the time - a sure sign of a booming business. The fact is there are actually more anglers interested in bonefishing, some of which don't have the money or the inclination to do their fishing through a lodge or with a guide.
Now, whether they are right or wise (or even save any money) doing this is debatable, but that's not the point. There must be some people out there - fly shop owners, booking agents, tackle reps, - that can quietly point this out to the lodges and guides that are complaining. The other problems, the trashed cars and hammered fisheries, are definitely real concerns, but the solution might not be to close the fisheries in this way. I say talk to whoever you can, email people who know people. Drop a line to any Bahamian guides you might have fished with and generally educate how DIY fishing is not the death of the Bahamian bonefishing economy, just a little icing (in the way of lodging, food, air-fare, and alleged rental cars) from a sector they wouldn't otherwise reach. And, if you are lucky enough to fish on your own over there, be respectful of the environment, privacy, property, and especially the fish themselves. DIY is about getting out there and figuring it out on your own - the tides, the flies, and the bite. It's about getting a few fish on your own terms and clearing your head at the same time. Getting there is half the adventure.
Remember that the next time someone asks you where to go on their own and you know a great little creek loaded with dumb bones. If they're half the angler they want to be, they'd want to find it themselves. Let them.
03-24-2005, 10:05 AM
Certainly, closing the Bahamas to DIY fishing is something that is only pushed by the guides/lodges—they are the only ones who benefit (so they think) from this course of action. They want to restrict fishing there and force all anglers to hire guides to fish.
I believe that in terms of business for guides/lodges, prohibiting DIY fishing will actually hurt the guides/lodges-but only a little. The people who go on DIY trips often hire a guide for a day or two of their stay. If they are not allowed to fish on their own, they may not go to the Bahamas period. They will find another DIY place to fish. There will always be people to fill the lodges, and I don’t believe DIY trips really affect them. There are just more people getting into bonefishing, and many that cannot or will not pay the much higher cost associated with staying at a lodge.
By prohibiting DIY trips, you actually hurt many other Bahamian enterprises more so than the guides/lodges. Hotels, car rentals, gas stations, alcohol/beer sales, grocery stores and restaurants all will be affected. These are the people that we should contact and inform them that if we cannot fish on our own, we will find another place to fish. They will lose out.
This is what the Bahamas fly fishing guide website said about reports of dead fish, trash and ruined rental cars: “In response to this behavior, it makes sense that local guides, resort owners, car rental agency owners, want to protect their bonefish resource…for anglers who appreciate it, and who want to preserve it as much as they do.”
First of all, there is absolutely no benefit to car rental agencies if DIY is prohibited. People staying at lodges will not pay $50-70 a day for a car when they don’t need one. Also, if the rental agency is concerned about damaged vehicles, they can simply get a security deposit for each rental. Problem solved.
Not a lot is known about bonefish spawning behavior, but I believe that the extra fishing pressure by the DIY angler will have a minimal effect on bonefish populations. The ocean is a huge place, and every angler I know of releases all bonefish caught, even though we know some get eaten shortly after release. Extra fishing pressure by DIY anglers certainly will make the bonefish more difficult to catch, or may force them to feed at different times or different locations, much like increased pressure would make wild trout in a river more difficult to catch. I doubt the increased pressure will seriously affect their populations.
Another point to think about is that most DIY fishermen have limited access from shore. They often cannot reach the areas that guides fish from their boats. On Islands where the guides fish some areas that are easily accessible from shore, yes, they would interfere with the guide's clients and their fishing. But wouldn’t restricting DIY anglers then interfere with the other businesses on the island I mentioned above? Whose business is more important, the guides/lodges, or the hotels, restaurants, grocery stores & car rental owners?
I guess the bottom line is how you look at the issue-from a business standpoint or from a conservation standpoint.
From a business standpoint I believe prohibiting DIY trips will harm the overall economy of each island where it is restricted. From a conservation standpoint, sure, less pressure does equal more fish, and less educated and less spooky fish. Where is the middle ground? A good question. All we can do is alert the interested Bahamian parties of our views and intentions, and it will be up to them to make a decision. After all, it is their Country and we are merely guests. I love the Bahamas, the fishing and the people. I know many guides, and have told them already that I don't believe it is a good idea to prohibit DIY angling. If DIY angling is prohibited, I’ll still go to the lodges in the Bahamas, but I will not go there as much as I do now. I will find another place where I can fish on my own.
03-24-2005, 12:21 PM
How is the baby ? Hopefully you and your wife are getting some sleep...
I could not agree with you more on your thoughts. I know that there are some local business' on one of the Islands, where the "outlawing" of DIY fishing is being discussed, that are very unhappy with this possibility. They know that there are still people that come and stay in their little hotels/B&B's, spend money at the restaurant in town and buy supplies/gas from the store in town. This is an addition to the rental car (which in many locals is not a big rental car conglomerate but a local resident who has bought a number of "lightly used" cars for rentals). One business owner said they have tried meeting with some of the lodges and guide groups to work out a plan that would benefit all on the Island....Not sure where that is going....
It is also unfortunate that a small group of inconsiderate fishing hoodlums have ruined it for folks that care about the people and environment of where they go to fish.
It is also very interesting to get a response from the different lodges and organizations involved in bonefishing in the bahamas when asked if you can combine a day or two guiding with a day or two of DIY. Some are willing to put something together and on the other end of the spectrum, I have been told to go find another Island to fish (And so I did)......But it is what it is......
Like you, I will continue to fish....I will use guides if I feel like it and will fish on my own when I feel like it. And if that means taking my trips to another part of the world to accomplish DIY, then so be it.....There are many areas of the world that have some quality DIY fishing that would love to welcome considerate visitors.....
Just my two cents......
03-24-2005, 12:56 PM
John, Mia is doing well, thanks. We are getting some sleep too!
I agree with you fully--there must be some happy medium to be reached here. Also, it certainly is a very small % of people giving the rest of the DIY anglers a bad rap. I know a lot of anglers who DIY and they are very respectful of the Bahamian resource.
03-24-2005, 01:46 PM
The last three posts are right on the money. If this comes to pass the lodges and guides will be happy, though no busier, and a whole lot of other business owners will see less business.
I am going to write a letter to the government suggesting they re-think this move. For others who might want to do the same;
Bahamas Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Local Gov't
East Bay Street
Nassau NP, The Bahamas
This is very short sighted
03-26-2005, 01:39 AM
Here in British Columbia there are major rivers closed to non-resident anglers. Fishermen from outside of the province must hire a guide on these systems. At first there were alot of people (locals included) who voiced the same type of opinions that are in these posts. But in the end the whole thing has worked out positively in those watersheds. More tourist dollars in the pockets of those who live in the area, less crowding on the rivers, more fish returning every year. The bottom line is, if you can't afford a guide, fish somewhere else. I know I'll be changing my fall trip from the Bahamas to Belize.
03-27-2005, 07:30 AM
I think the Bahamians are trying to grapple with a real problem. Somehow, over the last few years, the number of 'Ugly American' DIY crews has grown much faster than any other fishing-tourism segment. (heck, the rest of the bonefishing 'industry' has declined.)
I've fished next to some of these groups, and they are emphatically not fun to be near. There is no doubt in my mind that guided anglers would and do complain when they're within shouting (swearing) distance of these groups. I can certainly see frustrated guides coming back with: 'Mon, you gotta help me out with this problem...' and it looks like somebody is trying to do so.
While I emphatically exempt this site's 'bonefish clave' from any such or similar behavior, the methods they used to find and book their trip are available to all, and are much kess costly than the 'traditional' lodge packages; so it's no surprise pople have figured it out and are torquing Bahamian bone-tourism in a direction the locals don't much like.
This (shift in bonefishing tendencies) could be a sign of tight fiscal times in the US, or just the maturation of a previously exclusive type of recreation to larger numbers of less wealthy people. I happen to think it's an unavoidable drift, prodded largely by the Internet.
Bahamas need to make a choice whether to try to preserve bonefishing as an exclusive, expensive activity (perhaps analogous to atlantic salmon fishing or what I read about BC) or whether to go for the (tourist) numbers. Given their investment in bonefishing lodges (which are by and large sitting empty, or at least grossly underbooked), and guides, the direction they are taking is not surprising. The clumsiness of the current approach is, well, only to be expected. My hope is they'll smooth off the corners a bit, given time and enough emailed complaints.
To look at the two different approaches, compare BVI's to USVI's, and the difference between mass and exclusive tourism jumps right at you.
03-27-2005, 11:06 AM
Response from Long Island (Bahamas )
Dear Mr. Dougherty - No - this is NOT true and before other people POST incorrect information - we wish they would let the persons in charge on the islands post the information that is correct. Local Government together with the Long Island Bonefish Assosciation are closing JUST A FEW areas on certain flats on Long Island - because they have developed as nursuries where small bonefish hang out.
Self-Guiding will NOT be banded ...just at certain areas Guests wading/fishing on their own will be asked to avoid.
Hope this helps ! Perhaps this message could be spread ....as fast as someone posted that Long Island is closing it's flats.
Best regards, Jill
03-27-2005, 11:55 AM
This is an excellent discussion. Vince's comments are level-headed and serve the interests of all parties. Everyone makes good points but I must admit that I find some of them to be worth a second look. Again, these are just my opinions and my intent is to stimulate open and clear thinking not to be argumentative and my rebuttals in no way reflects any personal or other feelings to the authors behind them.
First I think we would all agree that neither should be done to spite the other; certainly a world reserved for the rich and exclusive sucks for all (except for the rich and exclusive) and no one wants the great hordes of unwashed masses to run amok over the flats either... [segue to daydream]
Suddenly the serpentine flow of bodies outside NAS airport changes from tanned hardbodies and vacationers in flowered shirts and straw hats to dapper middle-aged men in bargain-basement pastel colored flats shirts and teva look-alike Kmart sandals caked with fresh marl dust. One says to the other "good thing we're getting out before next week's bonemasters (e.g. bassmasters) tournament". 10 days of bubba boners throwing level-wind reels with the new redbone porkrind (with pheromones and extra salt) jigs into the mix. I can hear 'em now: "boy o boy did we miss our bassboats Billybob! This mucky wet-wading is for the birds ol' buddy! And them guide boats suuure look purty, never been on one of them things." The cable sports channels will be all over it. :rolleyes:
Let's get real. If the great unwashed masses were going to over-run the Bahamas, wouldn't the Florida Keys be thoroughly trampled by hapless waders? I have rarely seen another angler on foot on the Keys even when I could not find an open motel room the four trips I've made down there. Yet boat guides are a ubiquitous (and some of the best in the world) in fact they usually outnumber the anglers on the Keys at any given time. The truth is (a) everyone will eventually want to stay in a lodge and (b) more people can become addicted to bonefishing if there is an easier point of entry and (c) DIY promotes more bookings in lodges because it's hard and less productive. The thinking behind these lodge owners is counter-productive, it takes a lot to get a room booked and the very best way to do it is to create a bigger population of addicted head-over-heels boneheads not force people off the shoreline. Nothing makes you want to book a lodge/guide more than being on location on foot.
Case #2 in point: Monomoy and northeastern flats are virtually unregulated in any direct way in an area whose population density is many orders of magnitude greater (compare the populations) than the Bahamas and the effect of keeping the general public access the fishery does it no incremental harm. Should we shut down the northeastern flats for the exclusive lodges and anglers too in the name of "protection"? What will that acheive? (1) It would alienate the biggest protectionist group of society - the angler (2) It would serve only the exclusive and rich (3) it's completely unnecessary.
The alleged Bahamian 'law' only serves one purpose - the personal gain of the few have's at the loss of the many have-nots. The have-nots are first and foremost the peoples of these remote places where bonefish live, not us occasional travelers who statistically couldn't make a dent in the fish population if we tried as we scratch together enough from our family budgets to make a modest DIY wading trip happen. We work our tails off to find fish, accept skunkings more often than not, and call a day with 4-6 good shots and a fish landed acceptable, two fish very good and anything more outrageous. I have heard statistics from the boats from a single lodge landing over 100 bonefish by guided anglers in a single day in Andros! I would guess that my (our) DIY trips average 1-3 fish per angler per day, however a group of 8 anglers drops $8,000-$10,000 into the local economy in a week of shlepping around on foot. Meanwhile, we become enamored with the bonefish, inspired to save up for a lodge, and interact with the local people directly as opposed to being isolated in a lodge. It only helps the cause.
Exuma, where the anti-DIY pressure is notably high, has 364 islands in the chain from Great Exuma. Most of these are uninhabited. It also has a notably powerful and vocal Guides Association and the lodge owners are entrenched in the power structure of the island, working in no uncertain terms to prevent anyone from coming to Exuma to fish without several thousand dollars coming their way. Sadly, it's nothing more than greed for a few exclusives and their rich clientele - you know who they are because they act holier than thou at the airports as they cut ahead of you in line or charter a private flight to avoid interaction with the public.
As DIY anglers "on the ground level" in Exuma last year we were appreciated by many small businesses, and spent a lot of money at the well-known lodges every day for meals and drinks despite staying down the road. Unfortunately the two times we were confronted by guides were very un-nerving. I got such a bad taste that when I get the money to spend on a lodge it will not be on Exuma. I wonder if they realize that they are creating competition among themselves by being unfriendly. I will go to Acklins, Andros, Abaco, etc - until a guide confronts me there; and if they enact this law I will find another country on the bonefish belt as I am sure many anglers will too.
Over to BC: the percentage of 'controlled' BC waters is probably less than 1/10th of 1% (if even that much) and 99.9% the province is known as a wonderful place for pulling over the vehicle and fishing with the family. To compare with a unilateral prohibition by the Bahamian government is apples and oranges or even cumquats. If BC decided to make fishing throughout the province guided-only it would make apples to apples, however it would make no sense at all.
In Josko's observations, which are undoubtedly experienced first-hand, there is one generalism I disagree with (respectfully) and that is the term "locals". The term implies that all peoples of a particular territory are united in their want for preservation of the small, exclusive, and prohibitively expensive ol' boy club approach. I may have only 11 bonefish trips under my belt but I have interacted with the native peoples wherever and whenever I could and in some cases quite extensively. I have grown to love the island people, especially those of the Bahamas with our trip to Acklins last week being the absolute peak of this part of the experience. A local Acklins business owner told us last week that we were the first to stop in "but we have seen groups like yours driving by in the guides cars all the time". My point is that the lodge/guide only approach funnels cash flow to a select few leaving 'the locals' out of the equation.
We've stopped by lodges to have a peek and I long for the day I too will stand on the foreward deck of these boats and explore the many unreachable places that these skilled Bahamian guides know so well, and eat the magnificent meals, sleep on comfortable beds and enjoy a week without worries. The lodge/guide trip is the ultimate bonefishing experience and it gives us something to look forward to as we become able to afford such luxuries. Why do I want to have these experiences? Because I have gained this love and appreciation through DIY experiences as a starting point. I wish the lodges understood that they can catch more flies with honey than they can with insecticide. The way to fill empty weeks is not by alienation, but by nuturing a fresh crop of "hooked bonefishers" who are tired of death marches, sleeping on the floor as odd man out in a group rental and scratching up their next group dinner. These anglers could not take the leap from their modest salaries to the exclusive arrangements without a chance to 'get hooked' first via a DIY exploratory outing.
IMHO by keeping things so exclusive, lodges could very well be causing their own rooms to sit empty. There are simply not enough rich anglers to fill the growing number of lodge slots - not unlike the guide situation on the Keys.
Like others I have grown to have a deep love of the Bahamas - it's people, it's natural beauty and of course it's bonefish. However if exclusive lodges become the only way a modest angler like myself (or the vast majority of anglers for that matter) dealing with occupational woes, or putting kids thru college, etc - can climb the learning curve for bonefishing and enjoy an escape to warm places in our brutal winter months, with this law in place it will not be to the Bahamas but another country that understands and supports these things and not one who enacts such a poorly devised law. Good luck to the beautiful people of the Bahamian out islands if such a law is put into place, I fear for them if it does. In my honest opinion the best thing that could possibly happen for 'locals' of the Bahamian out islands is a lot of DIY exploration, and the lodges too.
03-27-2005, 04:20 PM
Very well said Juro.
I'll be thinking of ways to forward all of the posts on this board to interested Bahamian parites. I will certainly talk to many of them while I am on Eleuthera next month. Maybe I'll hand out a copy of some of these posts to all of the local businesses I frequent there.
I hope you post a trip report of your experiences on Acklins. I am anxious to hear, as I'm sure many others are.
03-28-2005, 09:50 AM
Here is the latest info on the DIY situation from Stephen & Kim Vletas and their
BAHAMAS FLY-FISHING GUIDE:
Spring 2005 NEWSLETTER AND UPDATE
"New Regulations will begin soon to protect and preserve the Bahamian fisheries, starting with the flats around Long Island. This sort of conservation effort has been in the works for some time, and it makes sense that local business people want to protect their bonefish resource....for visting anglers who want to preserve it as much as they do. Long Island will begin their program later in April, or in early May, where certain flats will be closed to anglers fishing on their own. These flats will be rotated on a basis as not yet determined. A list of "closed" areas will be available soon from the local government on Long Island. Other islands are in the process of reviewing their flats and putting together their own lists of restricted flats. Please note, however, that there will still be plenty of flats open for DIY fishing. We'll keep you posted as we receive more information...and we hope that information will be forthcoming soon.
RUMOR CONTROL -- Many people have jumped to the conclusion that these regulations mean the end of DIY. Based on the information we have, that is NOT True. The following is a quote from Jill Smith at Stella Maris Resort on Long Island.........'Local Government together with the Long Island Bonefish Assosciation are closing JUST A FEW areas on certain flats on Long Island - because they have developed as nursuries where small bonefish hang out. Self-Guiding will NOT be banded ...just at certain areas Guests wading/fishing on their own will be asked to avoid. Hope this helps! Perhaps this message could be spread ....as fast as someone posted that Long Island is closing it's flats.
Best regards, Jill
OK, our suggestion is that everyone who still wants to enjoy DIY angling in the Bahamas.....gather as much information as you can, then go for it. We intend to. And then let's all just wait and see how this develops."
03-28-2005, 10:28 AM
Thanks Vince -
Does this mean guides with boats can still fish these critical nursury areas? Since the ratio of fish caught with guides vs DIY is probably 10 to 1 for skilled fishermen on average I think this is an important point.
Does anyone know Steve well enough to invite him to sign up? The discussion would be greatly enhanced by his interaction.
03-31-2005, 08:05 PM
Juro, here is more info on Long Island DIY fishing. Some good news so it seems.
This exerpt was taken from the Bahamas Flyfishing Guide website:
In the meantime, here is additional news....a reply from the Local Government on Long Island to an inquiry by Anne-Frederick Laurence, one of the owners of Chez Pierre. We had been trading information back and forth with Anne about this issue, and we appreciate her follow-up with the Local government.
Here is a message from Anne relating her conversation with the Local Government.....Anne writes..Went to see the Island administrator this morning. Here is what he had to say: (I will post it in some forums)
31-03-05 - I have been concerned by many emails and discussions forums from DIY fly fisherman worried about the circulating rumor of a new regulation about closing some flats for DIY on Long Island. To clarify the subject, I spoke, at the Local Government house this morning, with Mr. Preston Cunningham (Mr. Cunningham is the Long Island Administrator, the local representative of the Bahamian government), that confirmed to me that there was no such regulation to be put in place on Long Island. All flats are open to DIY fly fisherman. If you should see some signs interdicting access to some Northern flats, they are not legal (or not approved by the government) and possibly the initiative of isolated group of individuals. Mr. Cunningham also refers to an isolated case in the Stella Maris area where one person is disturbing local guides at work while using his kayak in the flat. That area only might be closed. As up to today, there as not been any serious studies on Long Island done by marine biologists to prove that the Bonefish population in Long Island’s flats might be endangered due to DIY fly fisherman. So, any conservation reasons have not yet been proved to be valid. Mr. Cunningham underlines that he and Long Island welcomes DIY fly fisherman to its flats.
04-30-2005, 07:40 PM
I've just learned from the Bahamian Dept. of Fisheries and the Environmental Research Foundation that the target area for 'Marine Protected Areas' where fishing without a guide will not be allowed is 20% of the available bonefish habitat (Bahamas-wide).
So, it's true there will be plenty of places where DIY angling will be allowed. However, the pessimist in me wonders whether 'they' will pick the top and most easily accessible 20% for guided angling only.
The 20% number is Bahamas-wide. Each locality, through the Bonefishing Guide Federation, will make recommendations on areas to close. I believe the Dept. of Fisheries has the final say, but it is unlikely they will override 'reasonable' recommendations.
The stated goal is to protect the 'quality of the fishing experience'.
05-01-2005, 10:15 AM
This could go either way.
One one hand, we might be able to explore outside of these prime areas without getting hassled. For instance this would be a reason for me to return to Exuma (where I refused to go due to the guide hassles) or explore parts of Andros or Long Island, maybe Grand Bahama Is. - when I don't have the money for a lodge.
On the other hand, the areas made available as Josko pointed out could very well be sloppy seconds while the prime areas are reserved and off limits even during the off hours after the flats boats have left for dinner at the lodge in the late afternoon.
DIY trips are difficult and I'd rather stay in a lodge any day of the week! I wish I had the kind of money that it takes to go to the lodges every time. But I don't, although I am saving up for a lodge trip. DIY still brings our money to BahamasAir, hotels, grocery stores, gas stations, car rentals, restaurants, taverns, taxis and only heighten our interest in coming back to a lodge as soon as we can afford to.
We'll have to wait and see what kind of allocation they make. If the choices are very slim, I think the decision will hurt the people of these islands while benefiting the few lodge owners.
The DIY anglers who can barely afford to do it on their own will go elsewhere and fall in love with other islands, and when they have enough money for a lodge they will stay in those islands instead of the Bahamas. The lodge owners who are struggling to book as it is are facing competition among themselves and blaming DIY anglers.
If they have less people who are in love with their Island, they will book even less as the supply of wealthy anglers is lower than the growth of lodges.
Where DIY goes, future lodge bookings will go.
05-01-2005, 07:01 PM
I'm a bit alarmed by what I'm hearing. It sounds like a special interest group has the ear of the policymakers. Where do the fish fit in this equation? And what about the local populace that supplies the goods and service to the DIY fisherman and the resident/non-resident?
Obviously, I'm not in the loop or too naive to understand how lodges/guides can eliminate 20 per cent of the ocean to the unwashed for their exlusivity. Will they go back for more at the trough once this is established?
What can we do to present a rational alternative to this charade?
05-01-2005, 10:59 PM
It's a different country.
I've heard the arguments from the guys on the ground and its hard to argue. Their position is that the U.S. has screwed up the Florida Keys through over-exploitation and they don't want it to happen to them. One or two "enterprising" US outfits decided to run mother-ship operations down there a copuple of seasons ago and that was the "beginning of the end". It's not just the guys on a shoestring who are causing concern. A number of wealthy individuals with properties on the Islands have set themselves up as impromptu Guides for their equally wealthy "friends" from the North West.
I also hear the arguments in favor of DIY. My guess is that the DIY contingent is currently a minority and would have very little sway in terms of the economic argument today - the future might be different. I think the majority of transient income comes from sailboats and cruise ships but I could be wrong. Also, make no mistake, lodges put a lot of money into the local economy. They employ a lot of local labour apart from just the guides (maids, handymen, cooks, wait-staff etc.). In fact the majority of the guides are now independent and work through local associations. You don't have to stay in a lodge. You can make you own arrangements for lodging/food and book your own guides. (This is the way to go if you know the guides you want and it's a lot cheaper than staying in a lodge).
It could be worse - they could simply ban all unguided fishing. It would be hard to police but they could simply confiscate tackle at customs & immigration from any angler not in posession of 'valid documentation'.
05-02-2005, 08:47 AM
Hi Adrian -
Respectfully I think comparing DIY angling to mothership excursions full of rich folks is apples and oranges IMHO. That's not DIY, that's third party guiding.
I envision the Bahamas as a seemingly endless expanse of habitat of which perhaps a fraction of one percent is covered by any established angling operation. 20% is quite a huge proportion in comparision.
I hope they draw a very hard line on ad hoc operations like the one mentioned above, however it seems misdirected to restrict a lonely wading angler sneaking out while vacationing with his wife near a good flat.
I really believe that the growth in fishing operations is far exceeding the demand and lodges will go empty at the current prices. I really believe thast DIY is a way for common anglers to become infatuated with the area and will lead to growth in bookings at the lodges in following years.
People will travel to other more accomodating destinations outside of the Bahamas if restrictions are tight, and the business will flow with it. I believe exclusivity will only help a few hands while the many realize no benefit.
05-16-2005, 01:46 PM
The crux of the deal involves a requirement by the Bahamian Fisharies Dept. that all bonefish guides pass the equivalent of a USCG Captain's test. The guide federation has agreed provided guides get exclusive access to bonefishing in the Marine Protected Zones.
05-18-2005, 11:42 PM
Hi fellow bonefishers,
I've been following this topic on several forums with interest, making a few judicious comments now and then. It seems to me that this whole thing has gotten out of hand. I mean, it all started with the rumored closing of certain Long Islands flats and has persisted despite letters of denial from both Bahamian government officials and local businesses that cater to many DIY anglers. All of these people are saying that the flats are not closed to DIY anglers, but people keep writing letters which ignore these comments... no one knows why. So far I've not heard one report of an angler being asked to leave a flat in any of the islands. All I have heard is a lot of conjecture and speculation, and folks changing their plans.
I can say that I've done bonefishing both ways in the Bahamas and enjoy both. Of course, there is something missing with a guide that fishing on your own provides, but there is something missing in DIY too (mostly fish). Let me also say that I am a guide on a small Caribbean island (hundreds of miles from the Bahamas) and have no problem with DIY anglers on my turf. In fact, I'll happily point anglers in the right direction and suggest some flies, because I understand how they feel. I know full well they'll catch more fish with me or one of the other guides here, but that's not the whole point is it?
So, let me come to the point. All these letters that stubornly refuse to acknowledge the few facts on the subject are only having the effect of actually pissing off locals that may not have had a problem before. Trust me, we'd be pissed off too if someone called us small minded, selfish, and money loving (paraphrasing here).
Of course guides and lodges have a vested interest in keeping the flats in good condition, and some DIY anglers may have a negative effect... even though they have the same vested interest. Personally, I've never got any attitude in any of the places I've fished alone. On the contrary, everyone from the taxi driver to the guy serving me conch salad has had advice on where to go. Almost everyone in the Bahamas fishes, so they understand and are usually more than happy to help.
So, let's all do ourselves a favor and not make this any worse by getting people's back up. If folks start posting reports of how they were kicked off flats or hassled by guides, that's the time for worry. Remember, we're all in this together. Without some of these same (much maligned) guides there might not be any bonefish left on some of these islands. Most guides I know are at the forefront of conservation and education to preserve this vital rescource, especially in the Bahamas. We're brothers and sisters in this; let's act like it.
Fish Bones, Guided Fly Fishing
05-20-2005, 06:50 PM
On May 9th, a guide on Andros drove his skiff repeatedly within 3' of me (at planing speed) while shouting obscenities. On May 10th, I met a DIY angler who'd just had a similar incident in Stafford Creek (North Andros). I was also approached twice by characters offering to sell me 'protection' while fishing 'their' flats.
In March this year, an independent guide's skiff was torched and destroyed in Bowen sound, Andros, apparenlty in a dispute over fishing territories.
And bonehead, if you doubt the veracity of my two previous posts, Please P.M. me for names and phone #'s of Bahamian government officials who will corroborate my statements.
I have been fishing Andros since '92, and at this am not planning to go back until the current 'situation' settles out.
06-25-2005, 09:07 AM
Does anybody have any updates on this topic? I'm thinki9ng of heading down next month, and can't seem to find anything definite on Bahamian MPA's and areas closed to DIY fisdhing.
The whole issue seems to have 'gone quiet', but that doesn't mean it's not happening.
03-18-2006, 08:13 AM
I met with Mr Michael Braynen (Bahamas Director of the Dept. of Natural Resources, formerly Dept. of Fisheries) yesterday and got an update on the no-DIY situation:
The Bahamas Guides Federation is proposing to ban DIY bonefishing by non-citizens in all Bahamian waters. The well-funded, profesionally presented proposal and lobbying effort draws parallels to similar successful programs elsewhere, such as no DIY salmon angling in (some?) Canadian provinces, and no DIY hunting by aliens in many western US states. Mr Braynen mentions he doesn't personally endorse the proposal to ban DIY angling in all Bahamian waters, but did say that the guides federation 'has the ear' of much-higher placed officials in the Bahamian Government.
They have looked at the Quebec salmon angling case study in detail and concluded that it both aided concservation and the local economy.
(Subsequent note: Please see the following posts. It is likely I mistook Quebec for another privince which does ban non-residents from DIY salmon angling.)
I have to confess this puts things into a new light. While I do like DIY bonefishing, it seems almost hypocritical to oppose it in the light of the succesful canadian effort.
Do folks think there is a plausible parallel between flyfishing for salmon in Canada and Bahamian bonefishing?
The big game rule out west is a bit more of a stretch; are there valid reasons aliens are allowed in the woods only with a llocal guide?
At this point, is seems that the proposal to ban DIY fishing in 20% of bonefish habitat is a virtual shoo-in, but the guides federation is trying hard to pass the law covering 100% of Bahamian bonefish habitat, and according to Mr. Braynen, are having considerable success.
03-18-2006, 09:16 AM
First of all, Quebec promotes DIY fishing in it's salmon waters through ZEC. They even have a booth at the fly shows. I have yet to be guided in Quebec in fact. They have their facts wrong. In fact in British Columbia, one of the greatest rivers in the universe prohibits all guiding to preserve it's magnificent fish.
Second of all, this selfish act puts all of the money into the hands of the few privileged lodge owners and their guides and keeps it from the hands of the general population of these islands. We were told by Bahamians that we were the first visitors to stop into stores and pubs - they said they only saw others driving past in lodge shuttles for years.
But this is their business, if they do it, so be it - but many might never visit a Bahamian island to fish again if they do.
I hope a serious tax is put upon this exclusive lodge business that directly and generously benefits the people of these islands other than those involved with lodge operations. Bahamian businesses operate tax-free so there is no benefit from these dollars to the communities around them.
In fact, if only guided fishing is allowed what is sure to happen in this have/have not economy is bargain basement guiding as is the case in Newfoundland, Canada. You can walk into a convenience store and hire the clerk to be your guide for the day for peanuts. That's better than DIY, he shows you where to fish and lets you figure it out from there for low cost!
Yes, let's use Canada as the example!
03-18-2006, 09:46 AM
perhaps I have my canadian province wrong? Is there another province where all aliens have to have a guide when fishing for salmon?
Also, there is no mention of having to stay at a fishing lodge. There isa a growing population of independent guides on the islands.
03-18-2006, 10:08 AM
New Brunswick requires non-residents to have a guide for salmon fishing . . . three "sports" per guide.
03-18-2006, 10:31 AM
One exclusive province does not a Bahamian archipelago make.
Has anyone seen Turks and Caicos by satellite? WOW and talk about convenient direct flights!
03-20-2006, 11:27 PM
As a Western Canadian I think it's absurd to compare DIY fishing for Bonefish to Salmon fishing. First of all Salmon and Steelhead are quickly becoming endangered, many runs close to exctinction already. Bonefish are quite numerous as far as I know. Secondly Salmonids concentrate in rivers and so do the anglers. Crowds and questionable fishing techniques lend a hand to the dwindling numbers of fish. Bonefish are spread out over vast areas, some never fished. Banning and special liscencing of alien anglers in Canada is not a guide issue. We have more and more people fishing for fewer and fewer fish in relatively small areas that fish have to pass through.
There is no comparison!
I think the Bahamas needs to try other methods such as expensive liscences for unguided alien anglers, bait bans for all in some areas, etc.
That's my opinion, anyhow.